Music has been a very strong source of support and guidance. I have found lyrics in words that validate my feelings; give me guidance; let me feel that I am not alone. I hope to use this section of my blog to post songs that highlight issues that may be addressed in therapy. If you have a song you would like to share here, please do so.
We all come with baggage
Things that happened to us as children; as teenagers and as adults
Maybe a family member was insensitive to our needs; perhaps there was cruelty either accidental or intentional. There is remorse or regret over something we did: maybe we were the bully ; or we were the abuser. At times the victim becomes the victimizer.
You can gaze at the past but do not dwell on it.
We have learned – through self help books and therapy that we need to ‘work through’ our issues; which we dutifully do – we journal; talk about it; cry over it; confront the individuals that wronged us.
At some point though, we are just left with ourselves. We are left with the effects of the past and our perceived ruins in the present. What if we could just let it all go? When do we say enough with the processing? What if there is an escape hatch in our brain that we can open and get rid of all the pain we have been hoarding?
Happy and I’m smiling
Walk a mile to drink your water
you know I’d love to love you
and above you there is no other.
We’ll go walking out
while other’s shout of war’s disaster.
Oh, we won’t give in,
let’s go on living in the past.
Once, I used to join in
every boy and girl was my friend.
Now, there’s revolution, but they don’t know
what they’re fighting.
Let us close our eyes;
Outside their lives go on much faster.
Oh, we won’t give in,
We’ll keep living in the past.
Very cute video. As I was on my treadmill, struggling with running after not having run for several days, I heard this song on the radio. It struck me that while he did not feel like doing anything, he in fact, wrote this song, set it to music, and directed the video, had friends/associates that could do the video with him, and it became a number one hit.
There is nothing wrong with taking a mental health day, feeling lazy, or laying on the couch all day on the weekend watching tv…but the fact is, that you do have to show up for yourself and do the things that you don’t feel like doing. Exercise, eat right, meditate, work, pursue your goals and your dreams.
The issue that gets most people though is not ‘being lazy’, but feeling ‘not good enough’ or ‘not enough’. Once you have the knowledge of what you would like to be doing in order to feel better, or accomplish your goals – you have to take all the thoughts that come afterwards, that are obstacles to you taking the next step, and put them in a locked box.
Overgeneralization is a type of cognitive distortion where an individual generalizes a negative view based on one, or limited, experience. In this song, Billy Joel is singing to someone who has ‘over generalized’ – she has been hurt in and is unwilling to love again.
Does life stop after one is hurt or betrayed? Are there some things that are just too devastating that one simply just does not recover?
We look to people to inspire us, like the guy that cut off his hand in order to live while mountain climbing; or Elizabeth Smart who was held hostage for over 18 years; the triathlon guy who does triathlons with his son, who has cerebral palsy, in tow.
We look to these people and wonder whether we’d be able to face the challenge they faced. Meanwhile, we all face our own particular challenges that we see as ‘different’. Symbolically, are you willing to cut away an important part of you in order to survive? Are you willing to go to any lengths to accomplish something, even if it is harder for you than it is for most? Are you able to face down other people’s possible criticism or judgment? It is safer to fantasize about what would we do if we were mountain climbing and our hand got stuck under a rock; than it is to think about cutting away the dead end job or the unfulfilling relationship. We face similar questions in each situation – what will happen then? What if I don’t succeed? What if I regret my decision?
Overgeneralization can be a distortion that leads us to remain stuck. It gives us the illusion of safety by avoiding taking any risks. Can we instead, learn from our errors, from the things that go wrong? Surely we can; we must, in fact, learn – even when or especially when the solution is more painful, at least in the short run, than the problem itself.
This is not a post adressing suicidal thoughts. If you feel like you are going to hurt yourself, please talk to someone or take yourself to the nearest ER.
The song is about loss: being left at the altar, the mother dying, father dying, relationships ending and being alone. But the critical word, I believe, is ‘naturally’. The idea that you are alone again, – of course, what else is there for me; I’m forever destined to be alone.
How we perceive an event and the reason things happen to us is one of the centerpieces of our mental health. If I think that I’m doomed to be alone for the rest of my life, no matter what I do – I’ll be pretty depressed, including feeling helpless and hopeless about it to boot.
It’s important to look at the themes of your perceptions of yourself, about life, about ‘why’ things happen to you to see more clearly what you bring to the table of your life. Once you identify those themes, you can work on changing your perceptions, changing the possibilities of ‘why’ certain things occur in your life. Who knows to what bountiful horizons you could point yourself towards!
This is hard to do alone. Therapy is one tool that can help you out of outgrown mis-perceptions.
This song is the mantra for many people who grew up in that era and thereafter. I remember being on the dancefloor where there was always someone crying while dancing, yelling out the lyrics to the song, possbily after one beer too many. Songs help people identify their emotions, express them and hopefully move on. This is definitely a ‘I have moved on’ song. Or more precisely, ‘I’ve moved on, but you seem to think that I will take you back’.
Sometimes, we hold on to our anger or resentment long after the event has passed. A person may stay stuck in the grief or the anger of the event that occurred. It could be death, the end of a relationship, or another significant change that the individual has a hard time accepting. Maybe there are others around this individual who say ‘get over it’ or ‘move on’ or something else along those lines. It seems that others don’t understand the pain involved, and it may seem impossible to move on. This is where psychotherapy can help possibly identify what the block is to letting go and moving on.
This is someone’s YouTube posting of mostly the lyrics of the song. I was not able to find an actual video made by Alanis Morissette.
This song is intended to be from one person to another. The general message is to be able to love someone else unconditionally – which is great and is something to strive for. It is also a message against those relationships where basically, one person is held hostage in the relationship through guilting, blaming and or shaming.
The reality though, is that we are all human beings struggling to do the right thing and always imperfectly. We all have needs and if we come from a dysfunctional background, we have not learned how to appropriately get those needs met. There is a healthy ‘give and take’ in relationships. Sometimes expressing your own needs comes to be seen – by yourself, as well as possibly others around you, as being ‘selfish’. The struggle is, basically, to come to an answer to the question ‘am I being selfish for wanting this?’ The idea of unconditional love gets distorted. An individual can find themselves stuck in a bad situation due to this confusion and distortion of unconditional love versus setting limits on someone else’s behavior.
This is a difficult topic to address in one posting. In terms of this song, I hear it as being from a higher power, not another human being. Your higher power can love you, and does love you, unconditionally. No matter how you act or what you do, your higher power will accept you and forgive you. Even while you experience the consequences of your behavior, it is not your higher power that is punishing you. You can express yourself and ask for what you need to your higher power, and your higher power will respond. This is guaranteed, although you may not always hear the answer, or like the answer, your higher power is there for you.
Can you set limits on someone’s behavior and still love them? Where does the other person end and you begin? Are you making another human being your higher power?
In 2002, I was struggling with my spiritual life. I basically didn’t have one and was feeling inadequate spiritually. Whatever I did was not quite the ‘right’ thing or not ‘good enough’. Then I heard this song on the radio while driving somewhere and it opened up my heart to accept myself and my spirituality just as it was.
You too, may be struggling with an aspect of yourself. We get so much information from various places as to what is a ‘correct’ spiritual practice. Inevitably, we are not as evolved as we would like to be, or that we think that we should be. We don’t believe what we are told to believe, or lack sufficient trust to simply accept. Development of your spiritual side actually is a lot of work. A lot of work, that is done very slowly and at times is painful. One of the first steps in being able to develop your own spirituality, is to accept yourself just as you are.